Lauga says pap smear may have saved her life
THE Federal Government's planned cuts to bulk-billing incentives are something Brittany Lauga passionately opposes because a pap smear may have saved her life.
The procedure is among many that are expected to now cost patients money, after the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia deemed it " very unlikely" labs could absorb the costs.
"Pap smears are a method of early detection and, in my case, it may have saved my life," Ms Lauga said.
"I was a university student when I was told by my doctor that I had recorded an abnormal pap smear result.
"The health clinic at uni was a bulk-billing clinic, which was great because as a poor student I wasn't always able to afford to pay to see a doctor."
Ms Lauga said further tests were ordered which revealed she had "high-grade" human papilloma virus.
HPV is not cancer, but if left untreated, can lead to cancer.
Ms Lauga said she underwent a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) procedure to remove the abnormal cells.
"The pap smear, the tests and the LLETZ procedure were all bulk-billed," she said.
"I maintain that health prevention is a win-win equation: when govern- ments invest in health prevention and early detection (for example, Pap smears, urine and blood tests), it pays dividends for individuals who might have otherwise become very ill and for health budgets.
"The Turnbull government's decision to rip $650 billion out of Medicare by slashing bulk billing for diagnostic imaging and pathology will hurt patents, by forcing cancer patients and others with critical health conditions to either pay more or skip vital scans and tests."
Ms Lauga said it was already difficult enough to encourage women to have regular pap smears, with only half of Australian women in one target group having the recommended two-yearly pap test.
Previously the Morning Bulletin had reported Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry's position on the cuts, where she noted concern about "mistruths" surrounding the cuts.
"No changes are proposed to the cost of either receiving or delivering a physical pap smear examination provided by a GP or specialist, nor their billing practice," Ms Landry said.
"Let's be clear - the bulk- billing incentive payments that were being paid to the providers of medical diagnostic imaging (and not to the patients) was to encourage these services to increase their rate of bulk billing to the patient.
"These service providers were given these incentives and they are the ones who make the commercial decision on what was funded and at what price."